As CNN and MSNBC flashed breaking-news banners about new recordings of President Donald Trump admitting to journalist Bob Woodward in his new book Rage that he was actively misleading the American public about the COVID-19 pandemic, Fox News pretended like nothing was going on.
It wasn’t until a few moments before White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany was set to take the podium that they finally acknowledged the bombshell story.
“We think one of the things that could come up in this press briefing is about a book written by Bob Woodward,” host Melissa Francis warned viewers just before the 1 p.m. hour. She laid out the details about Trump’s attempts to downplay the virus even though he knew how “deadly” it was in February. At the same time, she stressed that no one at Fox had heard the recordings and the show did not play the tapes for viewers like other networks had already done by that point.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who happened to be on Fox’s Outnumbered to promote her new book, struggled to defend the president by attacking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and praising his partial ban on travel from China.
Co-host and unofficial Trump adviser Pete Hegseth, meanwhile, characterized the story as a “distraction” from the left “so that we don’t talk about the economic recovery, so that we don’t talk about the lawlessness in Democrat-run cities.”
He added, “This is yet another trash Trump book” before claiming that the president was merely acting as a “cheerleader” for the United States.
As for voters, Hegseth predicted they would “yawn” at the book and added somewhat nonsensically: “I don’t think COVID-19 is what they’re going to be voting on.” (Across the board, voters have identified to pollsters that the pandemic is the number-one issue heading into the presidential election.)
And then there was Fox News host Harris Faulkner—a key member of the network’s supposed “hard news” roster—who perhaps went further than anyone else on the panel in attempting to dismiss the Woodward revelations.
“Inside the Washington bubble, Bob Woodward’s name is still something that everybody goes, ‘What did he say? What did he write?’” Faulkner began. “And so it resonates there. But I don’t know if this is enough to change a vote, enhance a vote, make someone stay home and not vote?”
Seeming to completely misunderstand the substance of Trump’s comments, and without having played the audio for Fox’s viewers, she added: “If the book is just telling us that it’s a deadly disease, we already know that! We’ve lost almost 200,000 Americans. We don’t need a book to tell us how much pain we’ve suffered as a nation.”